Rheem Heat Pumps 
Review and Buying Tips

A review of Rheem heat pumps for home water heating. What to look for, and analysis of the essential features for easy purchase. See what makes these electric water heaters super-efficient and how they bring savings and significant benefits to your home.

Rheem water heater heat pumps are also known as hybrid as they utilize the heat pump technology and electric heating elements for fast recovery and efficient work. Moreover, this is the design that in 2014 won the AHR Innovation Award in the plumbing category for the most inventive and original product.

According to the manufacturer, Rheem Hybrid electric water heaters, could provide over $4500 in energy cost savings over 10 years, with the payback in less than three years.

Rheem heat pump

Models review

Rheem heat pumps are coming from the Professional Prestige series, (available on homedepot.com) a series comprised of three models, utilizing tank capacities of 50, 65 and 80 gallons, premium features and professional grade quality.

What makes these electric models unique is the ultra-high energy efficiency and recovery rate, resulting in Energy Star compliance and eligibility for government grants.

Model PROPH50 is the 50-gallon water heater that comes with the First Hour Rating (FHR) of 67 gallons, model PROPH65 is the 65-gallon heater that is designed to provide FHR of 75 gallons and PROPH80 is the 80-gal unit that comes with the FHR of 89 gallons, all with the common 29-gal recovery rate, making them ideal for high demanding homes/families.

The electric breaker size requirement for the above models is 30 Amps. There are also three other models that come with the same tank size, but instead of 30 Amps they require 15, so some panels do not require upgrades. Consequently, the First Hour Rating and recovery rate are lower.

Thanks to the heat pump technology and thick 2" foam insulation, all hybrid models have an ultra-high energy efficiency of up 3.7, saving you several hundred bucks annually, when compared to the standard electric type.

The warranty is decent, 10 years, mainly because of the quality elements such as the premium resistored anode rod, used against corrosion, and stainless steel resistor heating elements with the dry-fire protection.

Features review

What is excellent about Rheem hybrid (see the prices on homedepot.com) is the heat pump technology that utilizes the surrounding warm air for water heating, which increases the efficiency several times, when comparing to the conventional electric water heaters. The heater's solid body, state-of-the-art design and superb functions are what makes them a favorable water heating appliance. Also, with the noise level of only 49 dBA, the unit is considered as one of the quietest in its class - according to the Rheem manufacturer.

With an addition of the compressor, evaporator, and fan, the heat pumps are more complex and advanced than the conventional electric units, but still have easy access to side connections, standard 3/4" water connections, allowing easy installation in the same manner as the electric type.

What makes this hybrid unit great is the availability of the advanced electronics that includes the large LCD display, programming, and troubleshooting with the error code display.

The EcoNet feature allows users to take advantage of the Wi-Fi capability to control and monitor the unit remotely; set and adjust the temperature, set and change the operating mode, have access to service... Working with the water sensor, it can also send an alert if there is a water leak from the unit.

Operating modes

There are several heating modes that you can choose from. The current heating mode is shown on the screen:

  • Energy Saver mode - this is a factory set mode and since the compressor is fully utilized it provides great energy efficiency, low power consumption, and high recovery.
  • Heat pump mode does not use heating elements, only the heat pump, resulting in low recovery and energy consumption.
  • High Demand mode - the water heater utilizes both heat pump and backup electric heating elements for fast water heating, and it is used for high demand periods. In this mode with the maximized performance, the heat pump gets the highest recovery rate as both heat pump, and electric heating elements operate simultaneously.
  • Electric Heat Only mode - a mode when the water heater uses the heating element only, while the heat pump is turned OFF. This is a temporary mode, utilized on a short-term basis, due to the maximum power consumption.
  • Vacation mode allows the heat pump operation to maintain water temperature around 90 F. It can be programmed to operate between 2-28 days, or placed on hold indefinitely.

Specs

Models/Data PROPH50 PROPH65 PROPH80
Capacity (gal) 50 65 80
Energy Factor 3.5 3.5 3.5
First Hour Rating (gph) 70 78 90
Recovery (gph)
90 F rise
29 29 29
Sound Level (dBA) 49 49 49
Dimensions (inch) 61 x 22-1/4 64 x 24-1/4 74 x 24-1/4

How does the Rheem heat pump work

Rheem heat pumps work basically as the AC in reverse. Since they are air-source heat pumps, they extract the heat from the surrounding warm air (thanks to the eco-friendly refrigerant), increase the heat by using the compressor, transfer the heat to the water while the cooler (dehumidified) air is exhausted by the fan, located at the top of the unit.

This is why heat pumps should be installed in the rooms such as attics, basements or technical rooms with the furnace, for example, so that it can use surrounding warmer air for more efficient work. On the other side, the water heater heat pump is not recommended in colder areas where the average temperature is below 40 F.

Benefits

As the water heating is one of the primary energy users in the house, it is a good idea to look for an alternative. The maximum efficiency you can get from gas and electric water heaters is up to 99%, while with the new, hybrid technology, which combines heat pumps and electric heating, this efficiency becomes much higher. This means it will cost you less to operate the unit and produce hot water. Bigger the family and longer you use the heat pump, more savings you get.

Hybrids do not release the greenhouse gases directly as the gas-type, and due to an absence of burning gas, gas pipe and gas control valves, these units are much safer and easier to operate and control.

As explained, the heat is not generated but is moved from one place to another. The heat is removed from the air and transferred to the water, increasing its temperature.

So, three important processes happen when the heat pump is working; heating (water), air cooling and humidity control (dehumidification).

Highlights

  • Three sizes; 50, 65 and 80 gallons
  • Five operating modes
  • Energy factor up to 3.7
  • Savings up to $5000 over 10 years
  • Up to 73% energy use reduction
  • Energy Star compliant
  • Smart – leak detection, diagnosis, protective alerts and service notifications available to the user (sent to the phone)
  • Very quiet – around 49 dBA
  • Operating range 37-145 F
  • Easy side connection
  • Similar size as conventional type (approximately 74” x 24” x 53”)
  • Government and utility provider rebates
  • Increases the value of your property

Summary

The greatest benefits of using Rheem heat pumps (sold at homedepot.com) are the ultra-high efficiency, lower electric bills, fast hot water delivery and easy replacement due to the almost the same footprint as the standard 50-gallon electric water heater. According to the Rheem website, the payback period for the hybrid heat pump is less than three years.

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